Global Energy Flux Distributions

It is certainly true that most of the heat delivered by the sun leaves the earth as radiation.

And so most discussions of global warming focus on the radiative properties of the planet.

But the usual planetary averages leave out a lot of details. One of these details is the substantial movement of heat energy within the atmosphere. The screen capture  shows 4 Mollweide projections.

The top two are of the solar insolation averaged over January and June 2015. The bottom two are similar projections for the outgoing long wave radiation. The top four projections have the same color scale, 0 to 400 W/M^2

First look at the top two, and see the dramatic difference in insolation between June and January.  But the bottom two for the outgoing radiation are quite similar. Clearly lots of energy has to move within the atmosphere to spread out all the heat.

A large part of the energy moves as water vapor and is released when the water condenses. The third row of Mollweide projections below shows the average rainfall for the previous months, expressed as watts per square meter using the formula 1mm H2O = 29 w/m^2.  Note that the Jan. and June plots are almost identical — the radiative forcing has been averaged out.  The scale below is a bit different from the top, 0-500W/M^2


All data comes from Note that the site has caveats on the utility of .csv format.


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